The Hon. Peter Garrett, member of Midnight Oil and member for Kingsford-Smith is presently under-the-gun over the management of the Energy Efficient Homes Package.
It seems out of the old adage: speed, quality, cheap: pick any two that the department chose just speed.
From ABC1â€™s Q & A last night, members of both sides of the house marked Peter Garrett as an honourable and a decent man. His experience leading environmental lobby groups, and leading a successful band shows he can manage people. But Management in a Ministerial sense is way more complex.
Evidently, his department commissioned a legal risk assessment of the program in February 2009. This document was not seen by Mr. Garrett until early this year.
My speculation is:
- Mr. Rudd & Mr. Swan design a large program to inject money into the economy in light of the Global Financial Crisis. Getting this cash into the economy quickly is paramount.
- Based on a program created by the previous Government, it was seen as an easy mechanism to gain green credentials and inject fiscal stimulus.
- Someone in the Department engages an external party to detail any risks. In large projects, there are always risks. Mitigating risk is a part of sound project management. Not all problems can be solved nor foreseen: but those that are foreseen must be managed.
- Remember: timing is everything. Speed, speed, speed. The Department cannot wait months to create a viable infrastructure to manage all the risks, and as political pressure is on to spread the money out: nothing gets in the way of speed.
- Conversations between Ministers is all positive and about the velocity of the program;
- the Department keeps their risk assessment information to lower levels, in an effort to protect their Minister, the program and potentially their job.
- The Minister doesnâ€™t want to hear or see bad news: even worse, pass this up the chain to the notorious micro manager Rudd.
The causes for this breakdown potentially are:
- An environment where negatives and risks are seen as bad PR. Bad messaging for the nightly news
- An environment where speed is critical. Now, now now rather than considered policy execution
- An environment where people fear raising bad news
Just â€œfiringâ€ the Minister is not going to solve the problem. Although Mr Rudd will probably reach a point where he jettisons Mr Garrett. That will be sad.